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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too much art critic, not enough scholar, November 11, 2010
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This review is from: Makers: A History of American Studio Craft (Hardcover)
When it was announced that Bruce Metcalf would team up with Janet Koplos on this very important project, we were curious as to the decision as Ms. Koplos has a long held, very verbal prejudice against the world of glass. 20 years ago, the Art Alliance For Contemporary Glass funded Glass Magazine to commission critical essays by art critics as a way to get them to do research into the emerging world of artists using glass as an art-making medium. Janet Koplos was commissioned and what she had to say was that THERE ARE NO PEOPLE WORKING IN GLASS WHOSE WORK RISES TO THE LEVEL OF ART. She was talking about the 20 - 25 people she now covers in this book. 5 years ago, when William Warmus did a major show of art made from glass at the Norton Museum, Palm Beach, we invited Ms. Koplos to come as our guest to see how wrong she was. She declined saying that NOTHING HAD CHANGED.

I bought this beautiful, large book to see how it came out and spent yesterday reading the parts about glass. I was pleased to see that many of the short pieces written about the glass people were accurate and not written from the perspective of an art critic............but some were. Let me say, however, that what was written wasn't very informative.

What shocked me, but it wasn't a surprise, were the entries about Dale Chihuly, William Morris and Michael
Glancy. Ms. Koplos just couldn't get through this project without her critic's barbed tongue. Instead of talking about Chihuly as the engine that powered the Studio Glass Movement. Instead of talking about how he developed a vocabulary with his small work and let it take him naturally into his designs for grand installations. Instead of writing about the huge community of glass craftsmen who followed him to Seattle and worked for him over the years as they honed their skills, she concentrates on the economics of his business and the Disneyland effect of some of his major installations that have drawn millions of people. She never even covers "Chihuly Over Venice" or "Chihuly In The Light Of Jerusalem" which were spectacular projects. I guess Ms. Koplos just can't get over people who begin in the Studio Crafts Movement and who use their skills to break out into the art world. Maybe it has to do with money. Maybe Ms. Koplos is more comfortable with potters and weavers who eek out a living and uncomfortable with "craftspeople" who work in the world of large money where their work commands hundreds of thousands of dollars. But that's something for her to deal with...............but not in this book.

As for her review of William Morris who she says is probably the most skillful gaffer of his time, it's horrifying to read "praised by his apologists as a spriitual sensitive man. It is an image hard to reconcile with the marketing of a hunky glassblower. Being photographed in tank tops to muscular advantage in the hot shop.......". Give me a break. And the idea that the limited work from his Canopic Jar series commands more than a quarter of a million dollars ruins it for Ms. Koplos again, because she's more comfortable in the company of craftspeople who haven't "made it".

Given this kind of personal prejudice, it's hard for me to want to really read this book in its entirety but I shall in the coming weeks.

So how do I rate this book........"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king". Jansen it ain't.

DOUG ANDERSON
doug@d2anderson.com
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Initial post: Jul 7, 2011 7:19:30 PM PDT
... says:
Do you recommend a source with more un-biased information on glass? I myself have built a strong knowledge of a lot of craft but my glass knowledge is severely lacking.
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